Fall Trip Down the Eastern Sierra

A few weeks ago, Lynn had to go to Bishop for work, and we decided to make a weekend out of it. Snow had recently fallen, always a welcome addition to the Eastern Sierra, and we hadn’t been in months.


As we went up Conway Summit, north of Mono Lake, a big bird of prey took off in parallel to the highway, and I pulled over just as it landed in a juniper. We debated golden eagle vs immature bald eagle (tough lot, being immature and bald) – and landed on the latter.


Mono Lake with a long lens.


We spent Sunday in the Happy Boulders, and while there were more cars than we’d ever seen there, all the people were clustered around two or three main boulders. This gal skated up this route after to ripped shirtless dudes were shut down by it. At the top, she asked where the down climb was – so it wasn’t evidently a well-practiced route for her.


Lynn messes around on a fun boulder in the Buttermilks in her new approach shoes.


Me goofing around on an overhanging problem on one of the big boulders.


While Lynn worked, I drove around with the camera, and made it up Highway 168 to snowline – around 7,500 or 8,000 feet.


The view on the drive back north, from near Crowley Lake.


While we were in town, we went to the Craggin Classic, saw a UFO missile launch, spent time at the fantastic Mountain Rambler Brewery and hung out with some of Lynn’s friends. Bishop is one of my favorites, and getting down their in cool fall weather reminded me why, once again.


Donner Ski Ranch Mountain Bike Park

Earlier this summer, I stumbled across a Facebook page titled “The Bike Park at DSR” and was excited to see Donner Ski Ranch appeared to be building a mountain bike park, and I started making some calls.

I eventually was put in touch with Jim “Hacksaw” Severt, the builder behind the new park, who invited Lynn and I out to shuttle the new trails as they prepared to open next summer. I wrote a story in the Sierra Sun detailing how the plan came to be and what it will look like when lifts spin next summer.


We offloaded at the top where Severt and Clif McMilan, another trailbuilder, lead the group down the two trails. The first pitch was steep and I was nervous going first with my big camera on my back, but the trail was smooth and fun.

Clif on the trail.

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Our Own Worst Enemies

I chuckle every time I read mountain bikers grousing about the Sierra Club, backcountry skiers complaining about losing parking to Caltrans or climbers losing access to evil private land owners.

Not because these aren’t real problems – access for these sports is an ongoing struggle. But it isn’t environmentalists, the government, property owners or even equestrians that are our worst enemies. We are.

I’m talking about backcountry skiers cutting down trees. Or climbers littering in the Buttermilks, or also chopping down trees. Mountain bikers? We really can’t get out of our own way, skidding trails in every video, miles of poorly designed illegal trail or the perception issues surrounding the Redbull Rampage.

And yet so many take to the internet to complain about the forces that be ruining our sports. The real forces are those who show up, participate. Work with trail stewardship groups, land trusts or the Access Fund.

The picture TAMBA posted – click the image to see the Facebook post.

We need that kind of responsibility and leadership if we want progress with land owners and policy makers. Tantrums aren’t going to do it, and illegally cutting down trees will only set us back.

Recently the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association wrote: “‘Quit sanitizing the trails’ is a common online cry, usually by people rarely seen at trail days. Here’s our latest section of trail built on the Stanford Rock reroute we’ve been working on this summer. Safe, sustainable, and challenging, but not sanitized.” on Facebook.

I think that post speaks volumes about the two types of people in these outdoor sports, and in life in general.

The organizations like TAMBA that can make a positive changes are out there. The fruitful partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service and other property managers are being made. We just need to chip in and participate. Unfortunately, some of us may need to get out of our own way first.



Tahoe SCUBA Diving

This weekend Lynn completed her PADI Open Water Certification! Thanks to Patrick, I had a dive buddy so I could tag along on the Sierra Diving Center certification dives without interfering with the class.


The class lines up at about 20 feet down below the surface at Sand Harbor.

The instructors working with Lynn and her dive buddy, Tessa.

My dive buddy, Patrick, goofing around.

Me, Lynn and Tessa – photo by Patrick.

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Point Reyes Wildlife Video

Point Reyes is an incredible place, and its wildlife is just one facet of that. As I’ve been getting to know Point Reyes again over the past few years, I’ve seen whales, elephant seals, tule elk, myriad birds, a couple bobcats and even a peregrine falcon.

Wildlife photography is by far the most difficult type of photography I’ve tried, and video is even more challenging. Point Reyes has been a great place to practice.


Deuter Pace 30 Backpack Review

Finding a good day pack was tougher for me than for some – I wanted something I could take hiking, backcountry skiing, climbing, even mountain biking – growing and shrinking to carry minimal gear or a DSLR camera with multiple lenses on any given outing.

I haven’t come across the perfect day pack yet, but my Deuter Pace 30 has been serving me well for the last 4-5 years. It’s been on countless day hikes from the High Sierra to the coastal redwoods, backcountry skiing in Tahoe and Yosemite, carried rock climbing gear to crags near and far, and even done admirable duty as a mountain bike hydration pack, until a smaller, more dedicated pack filled the role recently.

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Review: Five Ten Kestrel Bike Shoe

After upgrading my 1998 Psycle Werks Wild Hare to a 2015 Giant Trance 27.5 in the last year, the next important upgrade was my Sidi Dominators of the same late 90s vintage.

When new, they were stiff, efficient, light and the Italian leather broke in to fit me like a glove. Fast forward to now, and the soles have gone soft, the leather is getting thrashed and the cinch straps are chewed up.

I also found the hard plastic lugs about as useful as ice skates on Sierra granite, so I wanted something with a sticky rubber sole. The pedals would remain the same – you’ll have to pry my Time ATACs from my cold, dead fingers.

The short list:IMG_1698

  • Pearl Izumi X-Project: Seemed nice, but the ratchet strap bottomed out before snugging on my B-width low volume foot.
  • Specialized Rime: A good fit with a descent looking sole. A strong contender.
  • Giro Terraduro: A great fit, but stories of soles peeling off had me gun shy.
  • Five Ten Kestrel: I didn’t get a chance to try these on, but like my Five Ten climbing and approach shoes, and had a REI dividend burning a hole in my virtual pocket.

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